Game Of The Year 2015: Best Action Adventure Game

As games have grown in complexity over the last few years, we’ve very often seen the blending of various genres together, and it’s made for an increasingly packed “Action Adventure” genre which manages to encompass a huge variety of very different games. Adventure games are a kind of catch all hodgepodge, as a consequence.

Our shortlist featured the conclusion of the Batman: Arkham trilogy, juxtaposed with the excellent Rise of the Tomb Raider. There was also the brilliant free running of Dying Light, and for want of a better home, the horrors of SOMA.

GOTY2015-ActionAdv

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The Phantom Pain was a game a long, long time in the making, but it was a masterstroke of reinvention, with large open worlds in Afghanistan and Africa in which to take on contracts and missions as Big Boss rebuilds his PMC.

However, it was also a disappointment. The final stretch of the story was messy and poorly cobbled together, giving the impression that Kojima simply ran out of time and had to make do, and the story as a whole divided opinions too. Many fans disliked how it filled in the blanks and tried to resolve plot holes from the earliest games in the series, while others took issue with the design and characterisation of Quiet in particular.

Despite that, the gameplay shines, with the ability to tackle your objectives in numerous ways and from many different angles. Certainly, you can still play stealthily, but with companions fighting alongside you like D-Dog and Quiet, and the resources from Mother Base to call upon – the abduction of enemy soldiers and building of Mother Base being another compelling part of the game – you can just as easily throw caution to the wind and drive a garishly golden tank into battle.

Runners up in alphabetical order:

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Dying Light
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • SOMA
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15 Comments

  1. I haven’t played Phantom Pain yet so I’m going with Arkham Knight. I thought it was the best game in the series and the first Batman game I ever completed to 100%. I think Asylum had a better story but Knight was definitely my favourite as far as the gameplay goes. I thought the Tumbler was great to use and was surprised that so many people hated it.

    SOMA is next on my list. I’ve had my eye on it for a while but the price puts me off for what is quite a short game. It doesn’t even have a full trophy list. When it drops to the £10-15 mark I’ll bite.

    As for Tomb Raider… I’ll admit, I held a bit of a grudge against Rise of the Tomb Raider. The whole timed exclusive fiasco made me hate the game before I’d even played it. BUT… I’m a huge fan of the franchise and I was never not going to play it. So, I started playing Rise of the Tomb Raider with my moody, overly critical head on and found myself really enjoying the first few hours. It was almost identical to the reboot but I liked the reboot so I didn’t mind. It’s Tomb Raider. Or to be more accurate, it’s Uncharted with Lara Croft but whatever. There seemed to be an interesting story unfolding and it looked incredible. The First level in the the lost tomb was really well done and the hidden tombs in general were much better than they were in the reboot, I’m happy to say.

    (POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER AHEAD).

    It was after arriving at the first open area when things started to go down hill (this is where you complete your first mission for a stranger). The problem is, you have this huge area with so many different things to explore, challenges to complete, strangers to help etc. that I actually forgot what was going on in the story. Maybe that’s my fault for ‘playing the game wrong’ but that’s what Tomb Raider is about for me, Exploring. I like to complete the hidden tombs, upgrade my gear, find and read the lost journals (which were actually awful in this game compared to the reboot).

    The reboot managed to do all of this and still keep the pace and you were never distracted for too long before you were pushed forward. Rise of the Tomb Raider came to a screeching halt whenever you arrived at one of these open world areas and it happens three times over the course of the game. It felt like unnecessary padding to increase the game’s overall runtime. Because saying ‘it takes 15-20 hours to complete’ sounds much better than ‘it takes 8-10 hours to complete’. Especially when there is no multiplayer element.

    This uneven pacing turned what was potentially a great game into an average one. But the pacing wasn’t the only problem. The story turned out to be a generic and lazy retread of things we’ve seen and done before. I really hated the lost civilization and the secret order story elements. It’s been done a thousand times before and better. A lost city guarded by immortal warriors, running away/climbing as lost city crumbles around you. This was a tried idea when Naughty Dog tried to use the exact same ending from Uncharted 2 in Uncharted 3 and it was even worse seeing it for the third time.

    Maybe I’m being too harsh. But if I am it’s because I’m a huge fan of the Tomb Raider games. Tomb Raider used to have it’s own identity. The reboot lost some of that identity but it was still a great game and a great origin story. Rise of the Tomb Raider moves even further away from what Tomb Raider should be and doesn’t have a great story to back it up. It isn’t a bad game. It isn’t unfinished or full of glitches. It’s probably the most ‘finished’ game I’ve played all year and the gameplay is just as good as it was in the reboot. The issue is that it could have been so much more. After the solid introduction in the reboot, I imagined a fast paced, globe trotting adventure. What we got was a safe, average retread which felt more like an extension of the reboot rather than a worthy sequel with it’s own identity.

    I’d like to think I’d feel the same way if this had been a multi-platform release. I think I would. I hated the timed exclusive deal but if this had been an incredible game, I would acknowledge that. I wasn’t happy that Insomniac made Sunset Overdrive exclusively for XB1 but I couldn’t help but love that game.

    If anything I’m disappointed that Rise of the Tomb Raider isn’t a masterpiece because they risked damaging the Tomb Raider name for what is ultimately a very mediocre game.

    • Whoa, i had no idea they had messed with the traditionally story-driven formula of Tomb Raider like that. That’s definitely food for thought for when it eventually releases on PS4.

    • You’re definitely in the minority to say it’s a very mediocre game. Tbf it sounds like you didn’t want to like it and grudgingly played through it. To say it moves away from what tomb raider is about when it has less killing and more tombs & exploration doesn’t make sense at all.

      • I do seem to be in the minority. Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been positive. I just don’t get it.

        I didn’t not want to like the game. I was expecting something incredible after the brilliant reboot but it just didn’t do anything. It was overstuffed and it didn’t top the reboot imo. The story wasn’t as interesting, the new open world / RPG elements didn’t work, the environments were not varied enough and very similar to the reboot, too many weapons (16 variations) which you have to collect all the parts to unlock. The only thing that did improve was the hidden tombs. They were the best part of the game.

        As for the kill count being less, maybe you can play the whole game in stealth and avoid killing (I don’t think it’s actually possible tbh) but you wouldn’t be able to explore properly without alerting any patrolling enemies and what would be the point in that?

        I’ve just checked my stats and I killed a total of 611 enemies in one playthrough. 223 of those were stealth kills. That’s much higher kill count than The reboot from what I can remember. There were points in the game where you had to kill waves of enemies so I’m not sure how there was less killing. If anything it was worse.

        Like I said, I’m just disappointed that it wasn’t better and it should have been better.

  2. Well deserved. This was easily my GOTY, nothing came close. The story was extremely satisfying (regardless of what haters say) and the gameplay was masterful.

  3. Great game and a deserving winner, though I agree with the criticism of the story I still enjoyed it immensely. It could’ve been a lot better and I’m sure a lot of us were very disappointed with the incompleteness, but what was there was bloody brilliant.

  4. Good call for GOTY in the AA catagory but a little surprised that Assassins Creed Syndicate wasn’t listed in the other 4.

    • I forgot about AC Syndicate myself and I thought it was excellent. Best non-pirate AC for me. Even better than AC2. Maybe it’s included in another category? I’d put Arkham Knight and AC Syndicate joint first. Too close to call.

  5. I don’t feel that MGS V is worth a GOTY award. It was a massive disappointment and i did expect a massive version of Ground Zeroes for both side missions and main missions. It was not. It was open world and kinda lacked things to do. Characters were disappointing, story fell flat on it’s arse and the twist was a slap in the face. Motherbase was underdeveloped and i can see what Kojima was trying to do but i never felt like a leader. We should have been able to actually train with our men and take part in various side things. E.g. drinking games, shooting ranges are competitive, CQC battles etc.. not, walk around the base to raise morale and shoot paper targets. It was the worst MGS in the main series and sadly, it was the last MGS. Oh and the ending did something that other games failed to do. It pissed me off to the point where i just ditched the game.

    I like the game but it’s a 6/10 game for me. If Snake was still his chatty self and they filled the game with a lot of hidden codec conversations, i wouldn’t mind the samey side missions and main missions as it would be interesting to discover them but they are not there. Just boring.

    It seems to be a disappointing year for end games of trilogies and sagas. MGS, Arkham Knight were two that were disappointing. Rise of the Tomb Raider, i do suspect many will ignore it out of spite and because they are annoyed at time exclusives. I hate timed stuff myself but it’s business and from Square’s view, it’s kinda a wise move, if it pays off. It will not. That and the whole “oh, Lara isn’t big boobies and is written by a woman.” bullshit will have damaged the game’s chances.

    I hate gamers sometimes.

    Anyway, hopefully, 2016 will have far better games for GOTY and less incidents.

  6. Tomb Raider closely followed by Arkham Knight. Both top games. Haven’t played MGS5 though as I thought Ground Zeroes was terrible.

    • As a HUGE MGS fan I really didn’t like Ground Zeroes at all but The Phantom Pain is one of the finest games I’ve ever played. I highly recommend it, don’t just it by GZ :)

  7. I’ve only played around 7 hours of MGS 5, which is barely scratching the surface of the game, but I’ve struggled to get into the game.

    It looks fantastic and I really enjoy stealth games but I’ve literally no idea what is going on story wise. I’ve played MGS 2 and 3 and ground zeroes and still haven’t a clue. The homebase options are a bit full on and daunting too. Feels like your thrown in at the deep end with no help.

  8. I’ve only played Batman on that list so…

    It’s everything you want in a AAA game really. Production, story and gameplay all at high standards.

    That said there’s no smoke without fire and ‘masterpiece’ is often heard when people talk about MGSV.

    • I would likely have put Batman at the top of the pile if it wasn’t for the pile that was the PC Version. I went for the PC Release due to having upgraded to a GTX 970 prior to it’s release. Put me off the franchise it was that bad.

  9. I really did look forward to Phantom Pain and I did enjoy most of it. I think it deserves this as it is a fantastic game and playing it, whether a mission or managing the mother Base it is great and the best stealth action game out there. The gameplay is just so engrossing.

    It just chapter 2 drags and knowing the Konami saga you can presume that’s where the game suffered. I have no doubt that chapter 2 would have been as good as the first if it wasn’t for this whole fallout.

    Although as a big Metal Gear fan the story isent as good as the others and this wasn’t the time for Kojima to try a ‘new way of storytelling’ neither was it the time to try out a new voice actor.

    There’s part of me that thinks this was to do with alienating the player to bring you to the end twist, and that some of that Chapter 2 was meant to be, to emphasis the “Phantom Pain” that we feel playing it; missing all his much bemoaned cut scenes, the weird humor, the consistent voice actor, the countless radio convos and the charismatic hero. I don’t think or believe that he would go through so much prepping, from that Moby Dick intro right to launch, with his attention to detail and not have some of the frustrations heard about V be on purpose. He wanted us to feel a bit empty playing the game. I don’t know how mission 51 would’ve benefited that much though, but they clearly wanted it in the game somehow.

    But there are metaphors there as always, and (spoilers) Kojima’s farewells are there, the erased markings in Ground Zeros, his in game appearance, and just listen to the Quiet’s Message tape and Paz’s final diary tape and picture Koj saying it.
    And Final Countdown on a helicopter. It’s not Old Snake in Shadow Moses but…it is still Excellent.

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